Learning English Conversation by Imitation
I know some people who once studied in England or America and yet do not speak English correctly; they make mistakes in grammar, idiom, and pronunciation. But the other day I met a Chinese woman who spoke perfect English1. She does not seem to be very well up in English2, but I believe she speaks it more like an English person than I do3. Upon inquiry I was given to know4 that she had never even been to college but had been taught English by English teachers only. She does not speak English as a foreign language. She speaks it in the way she does5, not because she thinks it is the right way but because she knows no other6. She is free from7, and probably ignorant of, the thousand and one8 mistakes peculiar to Chinese students of English.
This woman learnt to speak English by imitating unconsciously. It is no doubt9 the best way. But not all Chinese learners have the chance of learning in this way. Well, there is the second best10 way; I mean learning by imitating consciously. If there are people who spent years in England or America but who do not speak English correctly, it is because they did not do much conscious imitating when abroad11. They have carried their mistakes over and then carried them back, though they ought to have left them there.
I am perhaps in danger of being understood to mean12 that all who go to England or America ought to do so for the sole purpose of learning English conversation. No, I simply mean that by careful imitation one can very well13 learn it—and that14 not only in countries where English is the mother tongue but also in some places in China. Nor do I mean that one’s object in learning English is simply to speak it. But it needs to be generally realized15 among Chinese learners of English that good speaking leads to good writing and that language is essentially something spoken.
- a Chinese woman who spoke perfect English 一个讲完美英语的中国女子
- very well up in English 英语水平很高
- do=speak it
- was given to know 被告知
- does=speaks it
- other=other way
- free from 没有
- thousand and one 无数的
- no doubt 无疑
- second best 不得已而求其次的
- when abroad=when they were abroad
- in danger of being understood to mean 有被人以为有……的意思的危险
- well 容易
- that=one can very well learn it.
- needs to be generally realized 必须被大众认识